Why do people join chess clubs?
What are they looking for?
What is it like to be part of Glasgow’s Queens Park Chess Club?
Each month, Derek Rankine (Club Secretary) interviews Queens Park Members and asks them to share their experiences and perspectives. This month, we hear from the Chess Club’s power couple, Chris Dinwoodie and Jackie Logan.
Chris, 40 (“Jackie is convinced I’m 41”), is a magician and show producer who performs at weddings, corporate events and comedy clubs, and runs the successful Enterteasement monthly variety show. He was born in Rutherglen and now lives in Burnside. Jackie, 34, is a salon owner, nail technician, nail tech teacher and general “giver of fancy fingers”. She lives in Cambuslang.
The couple joined Queens Park at the start of the current 2022/23 season. Chris is rated 1025 with Chess Scotland and 1668 rapid on chess.com. Jackie is working towards a national over the board rating. She reached 1103 on chess.com rapid in 2022, but has since dropped to 928. Both are participating in the Beltrami Club Championship, and playing for Queens Park in the Dunbartonshire Chess League.
Derek: Can you recall your earliest chess memory?
Jackie: My Dad taught me when we were young, but only the basic rules. I never won a single game – therefore I hated it!
Chris: My Dad taught me and my older brother how to play when I was about six.
Chris – you come from a chess-playing family. What was that experience like? Lots of inter-family rivalry, or supporting each other to play and develop?
Chris: My Dad was a pretty strong player, 1910 at his peak. He’d tell us about his chess results but my brother had no interest in playing with me, so my games back then were mainly against the computer, which always won. When I started playing my friends, I could beat them most of the time, but I wanted to beat them every time.
So I joined the same Chess Club as my Dad – Cambuslang. That’s when I learned how little I knew about the game. Fortunately, my Dad taught me a few things when I joined the Club.
Jackie – outside of the Dinwoodies, do any of your family/friends play chess?
Jackie: My Dad still plays a bit. He’s a technophobe though. He only plays against the computer and is convinced if he signs up to chess.com people will steal his identity!
What is it about chess that you most enjoy?
Jackie: Winning haha! I’m very competitive. I love the thought process and the thinking it takes, but also that anyone can make a bad move at any time!
Chris: I like how fair the game is. The pieces move the same way, for novices and grandmasters, from seven year olds to 70 year olds.
Do you prefer to play chess online or in person?
Chris: I’m much better online, but I prefer playing in person. I like the feel and aesthetics of the of the pieces. I’m also a big fan of making ‘interesting’ moves. The moves where you don’t know if there’s anything in them, but it just complicates things. When you make those moves and you see your opponent’s face, it’s always fun. It’s part of the bluff, sitting there, trying to act like you’ve calculated something special. When in reality, you don’t have a clue.
Jackie: Definitely online. Over the board chess makes me nervous, mostly because it’s frowned upon to shout profanities when face to face! I also feel the board just doesn’t look right in real life. I prefer everything in 2D, haha.
How did you meet?
Chris: We met on Facebook. A mutual comedian friend posted something and we got to chatting on his thread then we became Facebook friends. A few years later, Jackie came to the show I run, and a couple of months later we had our first date on Valentine’s day.
Jackie: He forgets to mention he asked me out for coffee about once every few months and I kinda always palmed him off haha! After two years, we had our first date, and I don’t think we’ve been apart since. We recently celebrated our nine year anniversary!
Congratulations! Has chess featured much in your relationship?
Jackie: Not until Covid. I watched The Queen’s Gambit and I figured I’d give it a go. I was hooked from the start. Once I started winning I literally DREAMED about chess and would sometimes watch people walking about and imagine them as chess pieces! Weird, I know.
Chris: I wasn’t playing chess for the first few years of our relationship, and then I caught the bug again. Jackie used to be annoyed when I played Internet chess. But then Covid hit, we were bored one day, and we started playing. After that, Jackie started playing more than me.
Over the board chess makes me nervous, mostly because it’s frowned upon to shout profanities when face to face!Jackie Logan
What led you to join Queens Park Chess Club at the start of season 2022/23?
Chris: We’d previously went along to join Cathcart Chess Club, but it was a bit formal and quiet for Jackie, especially as she was still pretty new to chess at the time. Queens Park is pretty close to us and, truth be told, the fact Govanhill Chess Club* finished bottom of the online chess league the previous season, we thought they might appreciate the players. We’d no idea what it had become.
Jackie – you went to one of our introductory sessions on over the board chess. Did you find it helpful?
Jackie: Definitely. I had no idea about writing moves or even how to. Or how the timed games worked. It was definitely a great way to start and see who also was new to the Club!
How are you both getting on in the Club Championship?
Chris: I won my first match using a combination of luck, prayers and time pressure. I was holding on by a thread and my opponent was short on time. I was too embarrassed to offer a draw because I was so far behind, but I was praying my opponent would utter the word, “draw?”. However, the illusive checkmate never came and the flag fell, and I got the guilty win.
My next match was against one of the Club’s strongest players, Craig Thompson. He was starting to get control in the middlegame so I considered sacrificing my Bishop, but on second thought I thought it would be a bad idea to sacrifice a Bishop against such a strong player… so I sacrificed the Rook instead. It was a good laugh, but when I put it through the computer, it basically said I was an idiot. I won my third match against Gemma.
Jackie: Ermm… pass!
I like how fair chess is. The pieces move the same way, for novices and grandmasters, from seven year olds to 70 year olds.Chris Dinwoodie
Jackie – like many Chess Clubs, Queens Park is mostly male. Do you think the Club could be doing more to encourage women to join?
Jackie: Maybe hire Magic Mike in for a game? I joke – I think maybe having a woman’s league or beginner lessons, or reaching out to some of the girls’ forums on Facebook, would help. I know for sure there are girls who play! I think they would definitely come along if they knew other women were there.
You both run successful businesses, and chess can be a time-consuming hobby. Is it a challenge to integrate it into your working lives?
Jackie: I find it hard to get along to the club at times, especially as I work late a lot. But playing online I usually always squeeze a game in during my lunch… and normally have to resign when someone turns up early for their appointment!
Chris: To be honest, sometimes it feels like it’s hard to integrate my working life around chess. Being self-employed, it’s a hard discipline, and chess and social media, are an easy escape.
Jackie – as someone who runs a nail salon, do you have any comments on general fingernail standards in the Glasgow chess scene?
Jackie: They’re all TERRIBLE and should make an appointment with me RIGHT AWAY!
Haha. Chris – I recall you said you experimented with incorporating chess into your magic act. Can you tell us more about that?
Chris: Yeah, I integrated two different things. First was a trick with a white pawn and a black pawn. The spectator had to put one in each hand and I’d be able to identify which hand the correct colour pawn was located in, no matter how many times they’d change their hand or their mind. It didn’t fit my persona, so it quickly got abandoned.
For my comedy, I used to tell a true story about when I was at the Chess Club and Members started surrounding my table and saying things like “That’s an interesting position”, “I’ve never seen that before”, “Wow! I wish that was me!”. When I looked up. they were looking at the TV above us. Which was showing a Channel 5 adult film.
Maybe someday, they will say those things about your chess. What one piece of advice would you give to those who are new to the game?
Jackie: Don’t worry about your grading. Don’t even worry about winning. Take your time, use your time wisely, and always think, “what does that move do?”, after your opponent moves, and before you make your move.
Chris: Don’t memorise openings. Learn the principles. Then focus on learning checkmates, because there’s nothing worse than missing a mate in one. Plus knowing what mates look like helps you to put your pieces in the right places. After that, ask better players what they would do, and what their thought process is. That’s how I learned how to go from a hobbyist to a Club player.
Club Members surrounded my table and said things like “That’s an interesting position”… turns out they were watching an adult film on the TV nearby.Chris Dinwoodie
Good advice. Do either of you have any chess-related goals?
Chris: I’d love to get to an over-the-board grading of 1500.
Jackie: I would like to get back up to 1000 on chess.com and WIN A GAME IN THE CHAMPIONSHIP!!!
Thanks both! Our interview series will continue next month. Last month’s subject was musician Wull Swales.
* Queens Park was formerly known as Govanhill Chess Club